Thanksgiving: Not just a holiday or shopping melee

Last year I received a phone call from a friend who asked me what I was doing on Thanksgiving Day. Our conversation was on Tuesday, just two days before the holiday.

I had been so preoccupied with the "busyness" of life during the previous month that I had not been paying attention to the "big day." Thankfully, my wife had not lost track, and our family had a very fulfilling day.

Like many other families in our country, our Thanksgiving celebration typically includes watching parades and/or sports on television, playing various types of games (inside or outside, depending on the weather), eating lots of delicious food and taking turns in sharing different thoughts of what we are thankful for.

Since 1941, the fourth Thursday of November has been celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Even when our family lived as international missionaries in Brazil and Mexico we still celebrated "Dia de ação de graças" and "día de Gracias" with other missionary families.

In hindsight, I have no legitimate excuse for not being ready.

But not only on Thanksgiving Day. As a follower of Jesus Christ I should always be prepared to give God praise and thanksgiving. We don't need to wait for a national day of thanks to declare why we are grateful to God. It's not a once-a-year event but a many-times-a-day experience.

We who repent, believe and call on Jesus' name (Romans 10:9-13) have been redeemed from the eternal judgement we deserved because of our sin (Romans 6:23). Our joy and thankfulness should be sung to God each day (Psalm 117:1-2; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:2-4).

Think for a moment about the day after Thanksgiving known as "Black Friday," a melee of shopping at various retail stores to purchase Christmas gifts for loved ones or even ourselves. It has become a major phenomenon in our culture that includes "unbelievable" but often very "limited stock" and "short-lived" deals. Each year there are reports of people who have been trampled, shoved and punched in their efforts to get these bargains.

When I think of the words "Black Friday," however, my thoughts turn to what happened over 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. It was definitely a dark day as the weight of all sins, for all people were placed on Him (1 John 2:2). This of course, was all part of God's incredible plan to demonstrate His amazing grace (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Of course, "Black Friday" was soon followed by "Resurrection Sunday" three days later when Jesus rose from the grave, making His abundant and eternal life possible to those who trust in Him.

Let this be our cry this Thanksgiving Day and every day: "Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad" (1 Chronicles 16:8-10).

John Weaver is a Christian life coach and pastor of Morse Mill Baptist Church in Dittmer, Mo.

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